Question

I am a mother and I’m curious to know the right way to go about cancelling a babysitter.

It’s very difficult when a babysitter cancels last minute. But the same goes from the other end: what if I need to cancel? Let’s say I booked a babysitter a few weeks in advance and then had to cancel, would it be the right thing to pay them since they put that time aside for me?

Answer by Rabbi Yair Hoffman:

The Shulchan Aruch (CM 333:1) rules that once you have said that you would hire someone, you may not renege on that commitment. It is based on the Gemorah in Bava Metzia 49a. This is true even if the commitment was merely verbal.

In the event that you need to cancel, the babysitter should be reimbursed to the extent of a minimal job. This is called reimbursing as a po’el batel (See SA CM 335:1).

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